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tv   This Is America With Dennis Wholey  PBS  September 9, 2012 10:00am-10:30am EDT

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captioned by the national captioning institute >> recently, "this is america" visited the republic of kazakhstan in central asia. kazakhstan is one of the 15 countries formed by the breakup of the soviet union and it is the most successful of them all. on december 16, cause extend celebrates -- kazakhstan celebrates its 25th anniversary of independence. is the ninth largest country in the world and its oil and mineral wealth have contributed to its rapid growth. internationally, kazakhstan is a world leader in the goal of eradicating nuclear weapons on earth. is a beautiful country of snowcapped mountains, a vast steppe regions and desserts, and historic cities. with a population of 16.5 million people, tajikistan is
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home to more than 105 different ethnic groups -- tajikistan is home to more than 105 different ethnic groups, resulting in a large variety of cultures. we will look at the people and the sites of kazakhstan. we will also look at its importance in the region and its relationship with the united states. "this is america" visits cassocks dan. >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard.
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the ctc foundation afo communications. >> during our recent visit to cassocks down -- has expand -- recent visit, we discover the city of contrasts. the old capital of almaty is home to culture and education while the new capital is home to the government's. in almaty, we visited a huge old world market. they call it the green bazaar, selling all kinds of goods. our translator explains. >> we are in the central market of almaty.
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there are a lot of ethnic groups represented here. many of them filled traditional gaps. for example, the green bazaar. they have different sweets and dried berries. >> we discovered a different kind of shopping experience in astana. the largest tent in the world designed to replicate a traditional yurt. it even has its very own indoor beach. it is similar to american malls, but this one has its own perch.
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kazakhstan is a huge country and business activity is very diverse. financial centers in the east. old world fishing and new world oil in the west. traditional music -- we found that, of course in a restaurant. at the magnificent opera house, there's the traditional opera. if you want traditional cuisine, you can find that right in downtown almaty. you will not be far from the most popular coffee shop in town. >> this is the north. most of these buildings are
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built right after the world war ended. this is the most popular area of our city. this is a place where famous ski -- famous people, businessmen spend their time to have their dinner or to make business conversation. kazakhstan is steeped in an amazing history of nomads, the silk road, the soviet union, and now independence. to learn more, we visited the ministry of culture in astana. >> if we turn the clock back hundreds of thousands of years, how many people in this area would have been nomads? >> the population of nomadic people cannot be compared with be a modern state, of course. but thousands of people used to live in turkish empire, and we
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can judge on the size of the population, the nomadic population, based on the size of the army. there were thousands of people in the army, and we can say that the size even reached the millions. >> i want to put three ideas together. kazakhs were a nomadic people, great warriors, and the weather, which can be very hot and very cold. how does this all come together and play a role in the culture of kazakhstan today? >> you are absolutely right. let's focus on some of the features of the people. for example, the nomadic style, which played an important role
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in influencing modern kazakhs. the culture, it was an oral culture mainly. many of those who visited and study the culture noted the kazakh people are very routed. they have -- very rooted. they have a very large musical tradition. also, the opening of tournaments' and hospitality. >> this area, kazakhstan today, just 20 years old. 20th anniversary. heavy soviet and russian influence. is that correct? >> every generation, for example
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-- it was impacted by the soviet style. and they still keep some heritage from the soviet times. although, we have to agree that not everything should be rejected from the soviet times period, there were some values that continue to play into our culture's. for example, friendship and unity, good relationships with different ethnicities. >> my reading says kazakhs invented the horse, the tulip, and the apple. i say that sort of tongue-in- cheek. they did not come from here, did they? the domestication of the horse? >> it is a fact verified by
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scientists -- the modern apple, this is in the modern name of the city almaty, which has "apple" in its name. for tulips, dutch people recognize their beautiful tulips originate from kazakhstan. and horses, our ancestors liked horses. kazakh means "free-loving person." and freedom is something that cannot be available without horse riding. so horses and freedom, loving to be free. that is also true.
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>> to experience the rich culture of kazakhstan, we visited two major museums in almaty. >> is there an official name for the museum? >> the official title of the museum is the central state museum of the republic of kazakhstan. >> is the building -- which is so magnificent -- is it an old building or a new building? >> from the government's standpoint, it is an old building. it was billed back in 1985. the museum itself counts 180 years of history. >> what is the most important exhibit we will look at? >> of all the precious exhibits, there is what we call the archaeological that originates from the early iron age. there, we have collections of jewelry that originates from all
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over the republic. >> [speaking foreign language] >> this is what we call the kandinsky headband, found in 1939. it dates back to the second century before christ. it was found in the vicinity of almaty. these daggers date back to early 17th, 18th century. this is a ceremonial attribute of royal power. physically, it was the central asian hunt.
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>> is almaty the tourism capital of kazakhstan? is that fair to say? >> yes, absolutely. it is still the cultural capital. because here is located a lot of very big museums and libraries, the theaters, different institutions. that influences the cultural development of kazakhstan. >> tell me a little bit about the mission of the museum. >> the mission of the museum is to collect, research, and preserve the different are the facts of -- artifacts of kazakhstan. >> how was your relationship with the museum here with the smithsonian in washington? >> it is a mutually-beneficial project.
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so, the american partners will bring out their technologies in computer development, the world museum, provide some artifacts and materials for research. >> what do you see as the future of contemporary arts for kazakhstantex nve ntive, 10, years? will we get to know more of it in the west? >> i do not like very much the term "contemporary art." it would be fair to say how are will be developed in the next decade. now we have a different context with different institutions in europe and asia and america. we are continuing different projects in the museums fear between artists and galleries. -- museum sphere between artists and galleries. i think it will be very active in the next year's. >> they call almaty "the city of
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parks." it is beautifully grained and there are parks just everywhere. perhaps the most beautiful park is this one. we took a walk, and timorfrom the mayor's office was our guide. >> there are 28 guardians. this war memorial was made to honor the warriors who died defending mosque in 1941. >> so, we have the memorial at the far end. the eternal flame. to the left, dates. those dates symbolize what? >> these dates symbolize the honor of the civil war. these dates are from 1941 until 1945, symbolizing the heroes of world war ii.
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the defenders of the mosque. >> i understand this is a popular spot for young people who are just married to come. >> if you notice very right, because it is a traditional and almost an obligatory part in the marriage program to visit this place to make a happy photo and to pay tribute to the heroes. >> opposite the memorial is the famous cathedral. >> this is the oldest and most important church for the russian christians in kazakhstan. this church was built by a famous architect. it was built in 1907. it survived a terrible earthquake in 1911. this is a traditional materials of russian classic architecture. it is made of wood.
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the style is similar to the cathedral, resembling a mosque. >> we talked to many people in kazakhstan, and we consistently found pride, optimism, and a good sense of humor. how old are you? >> i am 19. >> so, you are growing up with independence, huh? >> yes, yes, yes. >> 20 years. what does the word "freedom" mean to you? >> in node two boards. liberty and freedom. -- i know two words. liberty and freedom. >> what does that mean to you? >> liberty is a very big number, but we can be responsible. >> i love your definition of linking liberty with opportunity, and also
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responsibility at the same time. are you optimistic about where the country is headed? >> yes, i am very proud of my country. i want to stay here. @ not want to go way. i love this country. if we build' economics without oil, we can build a great country. and i think we will do it. >> you just used a phrase which i love so much "i love my kazakhstan." that is a lovely phrase. i just have one last question. what would you have americans know about kazakhstan? >> i do not know. i know -- it is a grade
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country. -- is a great country. americans know that afghanistan is a really great country in central asia. but most of them, they think -- we are a little country and so on. >> were you able to laugh at what he did or were you angry? >> it is normal. if you have censor for borat, we will sensor for everything. -- censor for everything. it is about americans. yes, it is opinion. i think ok borat, ok borat. no problem. >> you are pretty well known here as a television personality, singer, a host of various events.
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what is it like to be a celebrity in kazakhstan? >> being a celebrity, i am recognized everywhere. people will say hello. they can send me to wherever i feel like. this is one point. the second point is, being a celebrity, i do not like to enjoy and savor my status as a celebrity. i love to be a celebrity in the republic of kazakhstan. >> so, this is our first time in almaty. tell me about the city. >> i was born and bred in almaty. i love this city. i love the scenery.
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i love the people. the hospital. i think that almaty has very beautiful people. as well as the environment. >> do you hear almaty as a cultural center, a scientific center, educational center -- how about entertainment center? what do people do here for entertainment? >> almaty is a center of entertainment. we have a drama theaters. we have movie theaters. we have night clubs. people go there. basically, the person is like entertaining themselves. it basically can go on forever. >> what would you have americans know about kazakhstan? just tell them.
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what would you have them know? so you talk to them? >> take a look at me. i have shining eyes and a shining smile. we have gone through 20 years of independence and have been progressing well. with my smile, my eyes, and my general outlook, look at the country. >> so, if someone comes here, they are welcome. >> i was invited to do an interview for the television network. nathanst interviewer joh
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newell has his own program kazakhstan kazakhstan. after the show, i had an opportunity to interview him. >> you have a bit of an accent. where are you from? >> northern england. >> how did you end up here? as a broadcaster? >> it is a long story. i will not bore you with that. i came here 16 years ago after the orange revolution in the ukraine, in fact. since then, i became involved in broadcasting with the caspian channel here. >> tell me about the program that you do. >> this program is essentially like a vox pop travel documentary about life and the people of kazakhstan. each episode focuses on one particular aspect of life here.
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it might be going to a market or it might be going to a tourist attraction. there are different aspects their. would focus on unscripted discussion with local people, looking at local things. >> what is your take on kazakhstan and the people of kazakhstan, having been here? >> kazakhstan has an amazing future. i think that is very clear from everything you can see around 2. i have been here six years, and during that time i have seen immense changes. not just the usual indicators like the economy or the growth of the government or anything like that, but just in the people. the way that they live. the changes are very evident. as far as the people are concerned, i am sure you will agree with me having seen them yourself, very hospitable people, very neat culturally, very friendly.
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in six years, i have not seen any problems here whatsoever. >> that is an amazing statement, huh? >> that is an amazing statement. >> you are very blessed to have this opportunity, aren't you? >> yes. it is great to see a new culture at work, and also a new culture in growth. the changes here are absolutely immense. ♪
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>> special thanks to -- and the embassy of kazakhstan in washington. for information about my new book "the chance of a lifetime" and online video, visit our website -- >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the ctc foundation
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afo communications and the rotandaro family trust. >> whether at home or abroad, our goal is to learn more about the social, political, and cultural lives around the world. we call it "this is america and the world." we are learning about the entire world. you can see all of our programs at and follow-
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